Authors: Ittai Renan, PuaBar (Kutiel), Amnon Friedberg*, Elli Groner
Published in: Global Journal of Ecology 5(1): 079-087.
*Amnon Friedberg died on October 2020 from the COVID19 disease before this article came out.
Background: The cessation of anthropogenic activities in mobile sand dune ecosystems under xeric arid conditions has resulted in the gradual stabilization of dunes over the course of five decades. Our objective was to analyze the spatial patterns of arthropod assemblages along a gradient of different stabilization levels, which represents the different stages of dune stabilization – from the shifting crest of the dune to the stabilized crusted interdune.
The study was carried out at the sand dunes of the North-Western Negev in Israel. Data was collected using dry pitfall traps over two consecutive years during the
spring along northern windward aspects. Four dunes were chosen, characterized by three signifi cant landscape units: shifting crest, semi-stabilized slope and stabilized
Results: We identified three significant assemblages of arthropods along the gradient. The shifting dune crests are populated by psammophilic species found
almost exclusively in sandy habitats in Egypt and the western Negev in Israel. The crusted, stabilized inter-dunes are populated mainly by loess-dwelling species, which
are common in most of the Negev loess plains and have a wide distribution range, and the semi-stabilized slopes host species of both extreme landscape units but is
distinguished by four species that show significant affinity to it.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate functional arthropod heterogeneity and emphasize the risk of regional species homogenization. Heterogeneity is a key property in maintaining sand dune biodiversity. Homogenization, as a result of sand stabilization, may lead to loss of psammophilic species.